JP Lam Is Getting Global Kicks

Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - June 09, 2010
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Punahou grad JP Lam is a star in Korea and Japan

President Barack Obama isn’t the only Punahou alum who’s traveling the world these days: Punahou 2002 grad JP (John Paul) Lam has made quite the name for himself in Korea, Japan and throughout Asia - and this month he’s performing in South Africa for the World Cup.

Receiving worldwide attention via music wasn’t always in the plans for Lam. He admits that, when he was younger, it was on a basketball court that he had hoped to achieve success. He laughs, adding, “At a certain age I realized that I couldn’t jump high enough, so I started to focus on music.”

Well, that’s a good thing, as he has proven to be quite good at it.

While at Punahou, Lam was a member of the campus chorale and also played the role of Don Ho in the Variety Show production Oh No Don Ho. He then attended Pepperdine University on a vocal scholarship and majored in telecommunications. While at Pepperdine, he participated in many on-campus musical activities including song fest, opera, concert choir, coffee house gigs and convocation.

Just out of college, Lam toured singing background vocals for three-time Grammy Award-winner Michael W. Smith alongside American Idol winner Jordin Sparks.

And it was in 2007 that Lam got his first feel of the international stage. His composition YeoHaengGi was picked up by the Korean group TVXQ aka Tohoshinki, as their winter single.

“From that I got recognition and record deal offers, so I moved to Korea for a bit in 2007,” says Lam.

In 2009, his music took him to Tokyo, where he signed with record company Rhythmedia. That allowed him to pursue his music while continuing to write and produce for big-name artists, including Japanese R&B superstar Misia.

“One of the main things that I’ve been doing lately is producing for Misia (the first female solo artist in Japan to tour the five major dome stadiums of Japan in 2004, drawing a total of 357,000 spectators in just seven performances),” says Lam. “So I write songs for her, produce her tracks and sing her background vocals.”

It’s just another days work in the studio for JP

Last year Lam wrote and produced a song called Work It Out for Misia’s certified gold album Just Ballade, and also wrote Ultra X’mas as her 2009 Christmas single.

So it probably should have come as no surprise to Lam when Misia asked him to write and produce a song for her for the World Cup album.

“The main World Cup sponsor is Sony, and Misia is a Sony artist, so Sony asked Misia if she wanted to submit a song for the album,” says Lam. “So Misia came to me and asked me to write and produce a song for her to submit. So I did, and they selected it, and we made the worldwide release. It’s such an honor because Misia is the first Asian artist to be included on the official World Cup album. There are so many amazing artists on the album such as John Legend and Shakira, so it’s really an honor.”

The album, Listen Up, released June 1. And besides being one of the talented few to be presented with such an honor, Lam and Misia are headed to South Africa this week to perform their song Maware Maware (Around and Around) in a World Cup concert at the Sony Pavilion in Johannesburg.

To gear up for the oncein-a-lifetime gig, Lam returned home to spend quality time with his family, including his 1- and 2-year-old nieces Madison and Siena. Lam’s parents are Paul, managing director of American Properties Fund, and Susie, director of ministry at New Hope Women’s Ministry.

“I’m the baby of the family. I’ve got two older sisters and they have their families here, so I’m just kinda on my own out in Tokyo,” says Lam. “But I come home every three months or so. I try to get back often.”

Following his time in South Africa, Lam is headed back to Japan for two major projects: writing and producing more for Misia’s next album and working on his upcoming release.

“We plan to release my album around the end of this year, and for this project it will be a collaboration with Japanese hip-hop legend DJ Muro,” says Lam, who describes his music as rootsy and soulful. “Our unit is called M2J, and that’s going to be the name we’re releasing our album under. We are recording and still writing songs, so we’re moving forward with that project. I think we’re about 60 percent done.”

Lam’s music interest has flowed into the fashion world as he plans to start a music- and street-inspired fashion line also under the name M2J. It’s expected to debut next year.

Other nonmusic-related interests are playing golf, riding motorcycles, exercising, eating out with friends, and improving his Japanese, in which he says he’s almost fluent.

Another local boy doing good.

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